Tuesday, 20 December 2016

vintage bintage and festive xc

Princes St 7am

Last couple of months I've done solo Tynecastle Bronze runs. So it was great to do December's with a whole gang of HBTs and pals celebrating legend Claire Gordon's 40th by joining in her "Vintage Bintage" run, an annual affair done as an alternative to the horrors of christmas shopping.

The start point was Haymarket Station 7.20am. I hoped to get the obligatory war memorial out the way early on, as I've "used" most of the E Lothian ones on previous runs. I had planned to photograph Wojtek the Soldier Bear in Princes St Gardens but, having never been there at 7am, didn't realise the gates are padlocked until later in the day. Instead I took a photo of the Royal Scots Greys monument recognising those lost in the Boer War.

Also, I crossed the road beside the Heart of Midlothian Memorial Clock near Haymarket

Not an art installation, but Bike and Go at Haymarket

I haven't been in Haymarket Station since the £25m revamp exactly 3 years ago. (I hadn't even noticed there had been one until now.) It is nice though not all of the 25 million is immediately apparent from the concourse. I arrived early and was considering trading in my soul for a Starbucks coffee - the only place open - when Mark arrived and distracted me. Sarah and Jill also arrived, then Claire, who led us through town and the Meadows where Ivor joined us as we headed on the Innocent Railway through Duddingston and Brunstane. The pace was BRISK! I had been discussing things earlier with Mary saying it would presumably be a relaxing run but Mary had seen Claire on an early morning commute once, saying she appeared to be going at race pace. So I had been warned. 

Having been led down the Brunstane Burn by coach Hunter the other week I was able to recommend the right turn that takes you above Musselburgh to Hailesland, which gave a fine view of the sun rise. A dose of high pressure suggested the weather was set fine for the day. Too cold to hang around, but warm enough for Ivor to run all day in a vest, wearing his top layer as a scarf.

Heading towards the Law on the left.

photo Claire G

John Muir along whose way we went.

First stop: the Filling Station, Prestonpans. Claire had mapped out a rough schedule for those joining us later and we hit the Filling Station bang on 9am. Bacon Rolls were excellent and the women behind the counter couldn't have been more helpful and encouraging. (They took the following photo.) If I remember correctly Dan highly rated the turkey and cranberry sauce baguette. David (Big D) Fulton joined the posse as did a few others. It will be interesting to see what damage he can do at London Marathon in the Spring.

Jamie T climbs aboard near Seton Sands


Robin ran roadside for a while although I never saw him again after this point. 

Claire's annual run covers the number of years of her birthday and there was slight concern that there may not be sufficient miles between Edinburgh and Binning Wood, the end point. So we generally took the longer option if there was one. The plan was to hook up with Megan W's Festive XC in Binning Wood to do the final 5 miles as that fundraiser run. (And a couple more to warm down if we had not reached 40miles by then). I had already flagged this (the Festive XC) up on the Porty fb page and was looking forward to taking part and catching up with the Dunbar's etc. who would be there.

Aberlady beach was deserted and it was good to hear the approving oohs and ahhs from those who hadn't been here before as we crested the dunes.

Just around Gullane point I ran down towards the beach. Claire and most of the crew went up the hill and I was surprised, as our route was definitely the best line to cross the bay and continue along the coastline. Ivor and Jamie came across the beach as well, and it was only afterwards that I thought the rest of the runners might be heading into Gullane to take the JMW on the inland route to North Berwick. The coastline is a bit longer and heavier going but it is also prettier and softer underfoot. We bumped into AGF halfway across Gullane Bay out running with Harris for the first time after a spell indoors with the cold.

Archerfields and Fidra
The reflecting sun off the lighthouse glass looked like someone had left the light on full beam.

NB High St.
Jamie, Ivor, Santa, bagpiper, tractor.

A quick visit to the Quality Street facilities, then we ran back to Cake, another good call for meeting place and refreshments. I was getting a little concerned about how much ground there was to cover to make the race at 2pm in Binning Wood. We left the cafe at about 1pm and I took to the front at what I hoped was an encouraging pace. We had already covered 30+ miles.

Stink Farm were cooking up big style and every time the wind blew in our direction you got a lungful of fishy/rubbery fertiliser pong. Just before the Farm we turned off left for Newbyth Woods, past the Mansion House. We had left Jamie and Sarah and I hoped they would know which way to go. (They did.) It was after 1.50 when we arrived at the race start where there were loads of folk registering and milling about. It was great to see so many had turned up to support the Dementia Research fundraiser that Megan and the Wrights had organised. There were loads of marshals (Bob and Lesley incl.) and folk cheering on and the race was 2 laps going close to (but not exclusively) the perimeter of the woods. 

Mary had driven from Edinburgh to take part and brought along my costume. If you can't run fast (after 38 miles) then at least do it in style. I had to take off my filthy shoes to get the monkey onesie on, which was the most difficult part, as my legs were now pretty trashed. I hadn't run in the onesie before although it was a left over from another running trip. I took off at a reasonable pace though very quickly internal temps soared to 'sauna' and beyond. After about 2/3rds of the first lap I gave in and slowed to a jog. I got to say hello to lots of running pals and "yes, very" to everyone who said "I bet it's warm in there!"

Mary said just at the start that it felt kind of dreamlike,
setting off into the twilight woods alongside me in a monkey suit.

I overtook those 2 in the first lap but started to cook and dropped back quickly.

Bruce came by to cheer us on.

more dreamlike photography in the half dark
After 40 miles this was pretty much what it was like.

Ivor, going like an engine

Everyone I had run with from Edinburgh went past. Ivor and I had been reminiscing earlier about the good old days and the Heb 3s and he was saying it was 2007(?) he and I battled it out on Barra for first vet. It was, he told me, the last time he beat me. I remembered it well. Nice to bookend 10 years on with another victory! Dr Neil also enjoyed leaving me for dust. I ran with Claire for a bit but had to slow down as I was faint with the heat and the exertions of the day.

monkey man

What is going on here, Dan is not that small!!!

If I had known how close Mary was behind (20 secs) I would have run with her - something we have only done once in a race before. She says she's glad I didn't as it would have annoyed her. Not as good a photo of Ian, hot on her heels, but you can tell he was working and feeling the heat too.

I was absolutely knackered at the end of the second lap and glad we weren't required to do any extra warm down miles. We were well over the 40. So I got out of my soaking kit (Nick saying to Mary - is that Peter stripping off in front of the kids?) with a certain amount of disregard. I'd already collected a few stab wounds between knee and waist visiting the facilities in the depths of the undergrowth. I changed hastily into dry warm clothes (thanks again Mary for bringing those along.) And got a spot prize beer for race attire. 

It was a superb day out and an excellent way to finish it (and myself) off. Well done to Claire for organising the run. I meant to do something similar for my 50th but there were other races and events going on and it takes a certain amount of impetus to get these things going. This was a perfect antidote to the awful stuff going on in the shops, and to end it by going along to raise money for a good cause was just perfect. Big thanks to the Wrights and helpers who made it all look easy and raised over £1700 for Dementia Research. Great to spend the day in the very pleasant company of those running some or all of the miles, which just flew by as a result. Let's do it all again next year.

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